In what Richmond City Commissioner Jason Morgan called “one of his happiest days,” the Richmond City Commission passed ordinance 19-14, also known as the chronic nuisance property ordinance, that will impose a civil fine on hotels and motels that are found to be a consistent problem within the community.
“As one of my happiest days, I will vote yes,” Morgan smiled.
The goal of the ordinance is to hinder the recurring negative impact on properties and in some cases, owners and managers of said properties who fail to comply, resulting in a financial burden on the city's law enforcement resources.
In the ordinance, a chronic nuisance property is defined as a "hotel or motel establishment on which three or more nuisance activities exist or have occurred during any 90-day period, or on which 12 or more nuisance activities exist or have occurred during any 12-month period."
Nuisance activities, which constitute a wide range of criminal activities, can be deemed by a police officer or a member of the code enforcement department. Some of those activities include public intoxication, disorderly conduct, assault, drug possession, drug trafficking or overdose.
If a property has been determined to be a chronic nuisance property, codes enforcement must issue a violation, which demands an abatement plan of the issue or a good cause as to why they cannot abate.
If the owner fails to comply with such actions, the owner shall be assessed a civil fine no less than $3,000 and no more than $5,000. If unpaid after 30 days, the fine is added to the ad valorem tax bill pertaining to the property and will include penalties the same as the ad valorem tax, constituting a lien.
Commissioner Jacob Grant brought up again, before voting in favor of the ordinance, that he would like to see a certain cap be placed on property owners in the future for how many citations a location can have.
At the last meeting, he noted that even with the ordinance's current violation restrictions, there was a thin layer that would still allow property owners to get by without being fined.
• • •
In other business, Dr. Michael Geile of Baptist Health Richmond gave a presentation to the commission regarding the implementation of bike trails integrated through the city to benefit citizens’ safety, health, recreation and city infrastructure.
“I have a vision to improve the community at low cost and high impact,” Geile said.
Geile, who works at the hospital in Richmond commutes on his bike daily, said while heading to work, he thought, "This would be so easy."
He made several points about why a bike trail in Richmond would benefit the citizens of Richmond, the first being that it would offer more exercise. According to Geile, Madison County is one of the leaders in Kentucky for high rates of obesity.
“Without a place to exercise in the community, we are going to get sick,” he said.
He said also that a biking trail would offer recreation to the residents, as well as promoting tourism for people to come to Richmond and offer better travel-ability to those already here.
At the meeting, business owner Mike Hale of Richmond's Mike’s Hike and Bike on West Main Street, supported Geile and his proposed bike path.
He made points echoing Geile about improved safety for cyclists, better travel-ability for residents and another option of travel.
Hale said that in comparing Richmond to Berea, the neighboring city was “miles ahead of Richmond, literally,” when it came to travel-ability of the city.
“People are leaving Richmond and going to Berea for multi-use exercise,” he said.
Hale, who is also a youth and Cub Scout leader, furthered his statement saying that if he wanted to take the kids on a bike ride, he would leave the city for a proper bike trail.
“I can’t take 13-, 14-year-old kids out on our roads in these conditions,” he explained.
Commissioner Morgan was the first to show his support for the bike path stating that in previously looking at metrics for bigger cities, a common factor amongst their successes was their travel/walkability.
He requested that the commission discuss the idea more in-depth at a future workshop meeting.
• • •
In other business
• Three out of four commissioners present at Tuesday evening’s meeting voted against ordinance 19-12, which would increase the dollar amount from $20,000 to $30,000 before the city would be required to advertise a project's bid in the local newspaper for formal bidding procedures under KRS 424.260.
• The commission approved order 19-86, which adopted a new job description under the administration department titled communication and community development coordinator.
The next Richmond City Commission meeting will be July 23, 6 p.m., Richmond City Hall, 239 W. Main St., Richmond.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.